“Endless literary controversy is for sluggard minds. What more liberating thought than ‘God is’ — nay, ‘God’?”
I’d meant to read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda for years now, and finally chanced upon it while shopping for stationery at Landmark with the kids a couple of weeks ago. I am not yet halfway through it but the book has already kindled a deep-rooted desire I don’t really do anything about — to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime. Today, I came to a paragraph where the author says:
“Only adequate enlargement by yoga practice and devotional bhakti can prepare the mind to absorb the liberating shock of omnipresence. It comes with a natural inevitability to the sincere devotee. His intense craving begins to pull at God with an irresistible force. The Lord, as the Cosmic Vision, is drawn by the seeker’s magnetic ardor into his range of consciousness.”
A poem follows, in which the author describes his experience of ‘seeing God’, and to me, it sounds almost like the vision Krishna granted Arjun in the Mahabharata. This particular line made me smile with a tear in my eye: “Samadhi but extends my conscious realm / Beyond limits of the mortal frame / To farthest boundary of eternity / Where I, the Cosmic Sea / Watch the little ego floating in Me.”
And immediately the ‘little me’ began arguing with me. “So you want to achieve self-actualisation? What are you doing about it?”
“I’m working,” I say sullenly. “I love working. It gives me satisfaction. I am in my element when I am making beautiful stories and pages.”
“Are you sure you aren’t running away from yourself by drowning in work?” the voice persists.
“No,” I say, thoughtfully. “My work IS me. It is as much me as everything else I do.”
“There’s the Tiger Saint in the book who achieved physical excellence; the Perfume Saint; the Saint with Two Bodies; and The Sleepless Saint who had meditated for 45 years and still felt he had not achieved enlightenment, despite being a much more evolved soul than anyone else. All of them had some sort of discipline or rigorous tapasya to show for it. So how will you do it, with all work and no pray?” the voice chided.
“I don’t know,” I scowl. “Maybe I will become the Working Saint?”
Eventually, of course, all arguments lead to the same point that I already know:
1. Pure knowledge in itself means nothing unless I apply it.
2. I cannot desire for desirelessness. For even that is a desire. And all desires keep you away from liberation, and bound in maya.
3. Going back to the start of this blog post: ‘Literary controversy is for sluggard minds’.
Sigh, God has set such a challenge for us mortals. You cannot achieve enlightenment unless you seek it like a man with his head on fire seeks water (I forget who said this). But you cannot achieve enlightenment unless you let go of the desire for enlightenment itself. I am yet a long way to go to reach that balance, wisdom and the serenity that comes with surrender.